Microelectronic Engineering

Integrating nanotechnology into a working storage device

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The thermomechanical scanning-probe-based data storage concept, internally known as the "millipede" project, combines ultrahigh density, small form factor, and high data rates. Ultrahigh storage densities of more than 1 Tb/in2 can be achieved by using local-probe techniques to write, read back, and erase data in very thin polymer films. In this paper special focus is given to the crucial role of the polymer storage medium in thermomechanical probe storage systems. High data rates are achieved by parallel operation of large 2D arrays with thousands micro/nanomechanical cantilevers/tips that can be batch-fabricated by silicon surface-micromachining techniques. The very high precision required to navigate the probe tips over the storage medium is achieved by MEMS-based x/y actuators that position the large arrays of probe tips for parallel write/read/erase operations. The inherent parallelism, the ultrahigh areal densities and the small form factor may open up new perspectives and opportunities for application in areas beyond those envisaged today. © 2006 Elsevier B.V.